Jonesville Academy hosts ribbon-cutting ceremony

In+the+morning+of+Aug.+28%2C+2021%2C+President+Caboni+excitedly+cuts+the+ribbon+recognizing+The+Jonesville+Academy%E2%80%99s+establishment+on+Western+Kentucky+University%E2%80%99s+campus+while+Tyreon+Clark+holds+the+ribbon+cutting+with+students+assisting+on+both+sides.+

Abigail James

In the morning of Aug. 28, 2021, President Caboni excitedly cuts the ribbon recognizing The Jonesville Academy’s establishment on Western Kentucky University’s campus while Tyreon Clark holds the ribbon cutting with students assisting on both sides.

Genesis Malone, News reporter

The Jonesville Academy hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 28 at WKU, at the Jonesville community marker. This day was marked as the Jonesville Academy Day by Mayor Todd Alcott and the Bowling Green City commissioners. 

According to a WKU plaque, Jonesville was a small African American community in Bowling Green, founded by freed slaves shortly after the Civil War. The earliest land deed dates back to 1881. The community was named after “Grandma” Jones who presumably owned a large amount of property. Jonesville itself was about thirty acres in size. These thirty acres were bordered by Big Red Way, Russellville Road, Dogwood Drive and the railroad tracks. 

Where Jonesville once stood is now the location of Diddle Arena, Smith Stadium, Downing Student Union and Bates Runner Hall.

“The land at which we stand has a rich history,” President Timothy Caboni said. “As a university, we are working to do even more to honor the Jonesville community and the families that once called this place home.”

For Real Change Inc. and Boys to Men Leadership, two non-profit organizations, came together to create the academy; along with founders, Aurelia Spaulding and Tyreon Clark. 

“The Jonesville Academy is a program designed for young black and brown men, 3rd through 8th grade, to advance through learning outside of the classroom with internship and leadership opportunities,” Spaulding said.

The academy is 14 weeks long and classes will be held in Gary Ransdell Hall at WKU. 

The Jonesville Academy will offer educational programming for underrepresented minority males every other Saturday during the academic year, according to the Jonesville Academy website. The academy will offer the primary subject areas of science, math, engineering, reading, writing, history and language. 

“I got a message from Tyreon that said we would love to have your son be a part of the Jonesville Academy,” Timara Woodard, a parent of a Jonesville Academy scholar, said.

“My son is very talented at sports, but he’s also very intelligent and an honor roll student and I want him to know and recognize that you can be more than an athlete in life.” 

Jonesville Academy is accepting up to 50 students from Warren County Public Schools, Bowling Green Independent School Districts, and other surrounding counties. Once that quota is met, young men that were not selected will be added to the waiting list.  A $25 enrollment fee is due after being selected for the academy.

The academy offers a space and gives the opportunity to mentors and educators to participate in the program. Jonesville Academy seeks to provide an inclusive space for students starting with black and brown educators.

“I am so excited to be a mentor for the Jonesville academy,” Lamario Moore, WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center Program Coordinator, said.

Lamario works closely with students of color at ISEC and was recommended for the position by another mentor. 

“The Jonesville academy is an amazing initiative. I’ve been in Bowling Green for about 4 years now, and I think there was definitely a need for the academy and I’m so excited that WKU has garnered as much support as it has for the Jonesville academy. This is a very historical moment, and I believe Jonesville will do some great things for the community,” said Moore.

Students will meet for a total of 14 Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the WKU campus. The Jonesville Academy will partner with the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and encourages WKU student teachers to assist in the classroom. The opening day for the academy is Sept. 11. 

“Jonesville Academy is a community where scholars excel, so I say this, be the scholar, be the leader, be the change,” Clark said.

News reporter Genesis Malone can be reached at [email protected]